Archived web site - Kin Kin Community Group Inc.

Turning the tables

This table will demonstrate the reasons for our continued opposition to the Kin Kin Mega quarry, particularly the failure of successive Noosa Councils and Sunshine Coast Regional Council, to inform the community.

Abbreviations used are:
  • Judge Dodds - District Court Judge KS Dodds - Planning & Environment Court Judgement - (see P & Court below).
  • Neilsens - Neilsens Quality Gravels Pty Ltd. Leaseholders of the quarry site on Lot 259.
  • Noosa - Noosa Council (now amalgamated into SCRC).
  • SCRC - Sunshine Coast Regional Council.
  • Shepperson - John Shepperson. Owner of Lot 259 and 258.
  • KKCG - Kin Kin Community Group Inc. Owner of this web site.
  • P & E court - The Planning and Environment Court Maroochydore - hearing October 2010. See Judgement here.
  • DERM - Queensland State Government Department of Environment and Resource Management.
  • DEEDI - Queensland State Government Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation.
  • DTMR - Queensland State Government Department of Transport and Main Roads.
  • DME - Department of Mines and Energy, within Queensland State Government Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI).
  • Reynolds - Steve Reynolds. Town Planner for Neilsens in P & E court - Affidavit and Statement of Evidence filed in P & E Court. (See full Statement of Evidence here). (3.86 Mb PDF).
The MEGA Quarry The FACTS
Neilsens quarry plans approved by Noosa Council in 2005 show first stage extraction is to occur at the top of the Wahpunga escarpment (southern part of the plans - benches nearest the bottom of image). No effort has been made since quarry site activity began in 2010 to prepare the access road to this upper level or remove overburden from the rock. Extensive stripping of overburden exposing hard rock at the foot of the escarpment, outside the approved pit shell area, has been partially blasted, until suspended by SCRC and DEEDI.
Neilsens plan 2005
See larger copy here (Opens in new browser window).
Neilsens plans show an intention to extract the whole of the eastern escarpment of Wahpunga range on Lot 259. Government geologist, David Tresize, when identifying the resource in 1978 and 1989, clearly stated quarrying would occur on the lower slopes.
Noosa & Sunshine Coast Regional Council strategic plans have NEVER shown an intention to extract from the upper slopes of this range on Lot 259.
Judge Dodds concluded that there was ample evidence that neighbours of the quarry property were aware of the intention to conduct a commercial quarry. No due diligence search of Council records would have revealed such an intention. In fact a specific written question by one resident in 1997 expressing concern about the potential quarry led to a reply from the Noosa Council works engineer which quite clearly stated that there would be no full scale commercial operation. Judge Dodds appears to have interpreted this letter to indicate that people were aware of the quarry. Please read the letter yourself and make up your own mind. We say this letter was a considered attempt by Council to allay the landholder's fears and assure him that there was not going to be a commercial quarry which he needed to be concerned about. In fact, the exact opposite to the argument put forward by Counsel for Neilsens and apparently adopted by Judge Dodds.
Neilsens press release 15th January 2010 stated the quarry would be a small to medium sized quarry. EPA approval is for up to One Million tonnes per annum. Neilsens initial estimates (to Shepperson) were that it would take fifty years to exhaust the estimated 25 million tonnes available. That is, an average of 500,000 tonnes pa for fifty years. The Queensland State Government DME regards output of over 200,000 tonnes pa from a hard rock quarry is high production. Neilsens have since upgraded their estimates of reserves to between 30 and 50 million tonnes.
In P & E court evidence, Chairman of Neilsens, Ray Neilsen, stated that he intended, on average, one or two production blasts per month for the life of the quarry. This is the same figure quoted by his CEO, Mario Panuccio, in a press release in January 2010. Ray Neilsen also submitted sworn evidence that each blast produced up to 50,000 tonnes of product. Using the minimum figure of only one blast of 50,000 tonnes per month, this computes to an intention to extract in excess of 600,000 tonnes per annum for the life of the quarry. Remember, this is a conservative calculation, based on the sworn evidence of Ray Neilsen in the P & E court.
SCRC and Neilsens argued in the P & E court that production was not limited by the approval. Noosa Council voted to extend the term of the approval in 2003 on condition that the "size and intensity" of the quarry did not exceed the approved management plans. Council must, therefore, have reached an agreement on what those limits were. To date we have been unable to obtain this figure from Council or Councillors.
In February 2010, SCRC full Council voted unanimously to accept a Strategy and Planning Committee report which stated EPA approval for the quarry was limited to up to 100,000 tonnes pa. (See extract here - page 121). This report, brought forward on the instigation of Councillor Lew Brennan, reinforced the community belief that the quarry would be a small to medium quarry. Each and every Councillor was advised twice by a member of the public before the February SPC meeting that the figure of "up to 100,000 tonnes" appeared to be incorrect. (See copy of email here). Councillors Abbot and Brennan acknowledged receipt of this advice from the member of the public and stated they would consult their legal advisers. However, the report was passed unanimously in both the SPC and full Council meetings. (See extract from the Council Minutes here). We therefore rely on this as a commitment by the full Council that the quarry output will be restricted to under 100,000 tonnes per annum, as a small quarry, and in accordance with Neilsens press release.
Neilsens press release 15th January 2010 stated the quarry would create up to 20 local jobs. So far the quarry has created two casual jobs for locals. Neilsens Bromelton North Quarry, capable of producing over 500 tonnes per hour, employed only 9 as at 30 June 2010. In evidence in the P & E court, Ray Neilsen stated the Kin Kin quarry would "eventually have about 12 employees ... and these would generally be locals". In fact, DME records show only 1428 quarry employees registered for the whole state of Queensland on 30 June 2010. It is hardly a significant employer industry group, with only two quarries, Albert and Bracalba, having the number of employees comparable to the Living Valley Health Retreat, which is located on the haul route from the Kin Kin quarry. LVS has about 60 employees, most living locally, either in their own homes or utilising a strong local rental market. Their jobs and this significant housing market are threatened by the proposed expansion of the mega quarry.
The statement of evidence of Reynolds (town planner for Neilsens) quite clearly illustrates the anomaly which the Kin Kin community has had to deal with since this original application was made in 1987.
It was argued, and Judge Dodds appears to have accepted the view, that the existence of the quarry on Lot 259 was known locally and could easily be discovered by Council searches.
This, quite simply, is not true. The next few panels clearly show, using Reynolds own evidence, how the public has been deceived.
This is the gazetted Noosa Strategic Plan (as available to the public from 1988 to 1997). Quite clearly there is no indication on this plan of any extractive industry on Lot 259 (outlined in red for the court). The extractive resource symbol (triangle) is not even located on Shepperson land and relates to an abandoned quarry adjacent to Gympie Kin Kin Rd. Why, then, for the nine year life of this strategic plan, would any person be encouraged to search the records for Lot 259 to try to discover details of any approval? Figure 15
Here is Reynolds' submitted extract from the 1997 Noosa Strategic Plan - in place from 1997 to 2006. Quite clearly, the extractive resource precinct in this plan is concentrated over the valley floor of Lot 258 - which has never had an extractive industry approval. A tiny portion of the resource precinct reaches into the northern corner of Lot 259, but hardly enough to trigger a full search of 259 for extractive industry. Note that the exact area actually being quarried by Noosa Council at that time is shown as a small patch of "rural" zoning, just to the south of the extractive resource precinct. Council couldn't even locate their own quarry on the map! Figure 16
Now to this century. Just to be sure we are still confused, here is another Reynolds-submitted extract, this time from the 2006 Noosa Strategic Plan. The Extractive Resources symbol is centred on Lot 258, not 259. Remember, this Noosa Plan was gazetted 10 years after Shepperson's original application and 3 to 4 years after Council started quarrying on Lot 259.
How was any reasonable person expected to discover this quarry from Council searches? Unless you knew John Shepperson personally, or someone who had worked in the quarry, there was little likelihood you would even be aware that a quarry had existed there. To argue and determine otherwise is an insult to intelligence. Figure 17
Reynolds submitted an extract from gazetted Noosa Strategic Plan 2006 - Natural Resources Overlay. Interestingly, this is not the same plan as shown to the public during the discussion and submission period prior to gazettal. That plan, never gazetted, is the only (draft) Noosa plan to ever show the whole of Lot 259 as an extractive resource area. There were several written submissions made by members of the public about this plan. Verbal enquiries, made at the Tewantin Council chambers, were not recorded but included an assurance by a senior planner that the buffer zone, cross hatched in pink, was designed to protect the public from the effects of the quarry. No enquirer, to our knowledge, was advised that the area was in the process of being declared a State Government Key Resource Area and that the cross hatched buffer would become a Separation Area to protect the quarry from development which might hinder its operation. This was, at best, a terrible oversight on the part of Council, or at worst, plain deception. No landholder inside this Separation Area, including Shepperson, was aware of the 2007 implementation of the subsequent KRA zoning until it was revealed by KKCG investigations in late 2009.
Just as Judge Dodds has ruled that the public should have known about the quarry, it is equally valid to conclude that Shepperson had more than 20 years to make it his business to ensure that the quarry he applied for was correctly represented in the Council strategic plans. It was just as much his responsibility to ensure that the Strategic Plans were correct as it was for the rest of the community to know that they were not! Many people have relied on these plans and they have been duped by their content.
Figure 22
Reynolds also submitted an extract from gazetted Noosa Strategic Plan 2006 - Biodiversity Overlay. This indicates an area entitled "Environmental Protection Area" which was, subsequently, renamed an "Area of Conservation Significance" in amended Noosa Plan 2009. The fact that it covers the same area as about 80% of Neilsen's proposed quarry, including at least stages One to Three of their plans, does not seem to concern anyone. All the available Council and State Government plans and maps of Lot 259, from 1978 to today, show a significant part of the southern (highest) portion of the Lot as a Conservation Area. This part of Lot 259 has NEVER been shown as a resource area, not even on the original Tresize geology reports. In fact Mr David Tresize, who later went on to become a respected and awarded officer in the Qld Environmental Protection Agency, recognised the need to avoid quarrying the upper slopes of Wahpunga Range on Lot 259 and said so in his two reports. Figure 19
Judge Dodds determined that the decision of the Local Government Court in 1988 "approved what had been applied for, the use of Lot 259 for extractive industry". Considering that this LG Court decision altered the original application submitted to Noosa Council by Shepperson, (but there was no requirement for Shepperson's appeal to be advertised), it is difficult to see how this can then be held to be the approval the public was supposed to be aware of. The public had no knowledge that the original approval was appealed or altered by the court. The original 1987 approval included a term of three years. Without any public notification, this then became 30 years under the order of the Local Government Court. The public had every right to expect the quarry to be a small rural quarry, as indicated on the plans attached to the application, when it was approved for three years. Noosa Council's intention was also clear. They approved a three year term with options to extend. Had they contemplated a large commercial quarry, despite Shepperson's application for 10 ha (or 17% of the Lot), they would surely have approved a longer term at the beginning, without having to defend their approval in the Local Government Court. This is one more case of this project being developed in secrecy. No wonder it seems so attractive to a developer seeking to expand. It has escaped public scrutiny for decades.
The so-called Readymix plan of 1991 is said to have established the size and intensity of the quarry. Despite considerable effort by all parties to the recent P & E court hearing to locate an approved, signed copy of the Readymix Plan, none was located. Based on the evidence of correspondence between Readymix and Noosa Council, Judge Dodds ruled, however, that "In reality, the Readymix Plans were approved". It appears to be an equally valid argument to say that the Readymix Plans were never approved because Readymix did not submit their final copy for signature. It is also equally valid to conclude that perhaps, Readymix, on reviewing their proposed plans, decided they were unworkable and withdrew them. Works Engineer Mr Wright, in cross examination in the P & E court, could not recall the circumstances surrounding the Readymix plans. Judge Dodds concluded that the evidence of Mr Wright added nothing to the evidence of the documents. It therefore begs the question - Where are the signed and approved Readymix Plans this case relies on? As this case was all about Planning and Development approvals, how can the court rely on a document that apparently does not exist? Readymix made their intentions clear, and Noosa Council made theirs clear. But when Readymix withdrew from the table before submitting final plans, how can their draft plans then be regarded as the "approved plans"? The simile with the statement "She is almost pregnant" springs to mind. It is also known, from later geology reports, that Readymix test drilling did not produce the results they had hoped for. In the long run, the Council-run quarry, based largely on Readymix test results, was located on one of the worst patches of rock on Lot 259. Neilsens advisers, Groundwork Plus, put this in writing in 2009. It is therefore a perfectly valid argument to suggest that Readymix withdrew from the project because they could not see it being viable. We are therefore entitled to our opinion that, in reality, the Readymix Plans were NEVER approved.
Key Resource mapping (KRA57 - Wahpunga) does not match the proposed quarry. Reynolds and Ray Neilsen claimed in the P & E Court that the reason for this is that the approval for the quarry occurred in 1988, but that Key Resources were not gazetted until 2007.
Confused? So were we.
The most likely reason that the KRA mapping did not match Neilsens quarry layout is that no-one, including Noosa Council town planners who had been involved since the beginning, had any reference to the Readymix or Neilsens plans when drawing up the draft KRA maps. It is incredible that anyone can believe otherwise. If the site plans were in any way readily available for scrutiny, surely someone in the Council or State Government would have ensured that the KRA boundaries, legislated to protect the resource from encroachment, would have included that part of it which had a standing approval. The fact that they omitted a large area of the proposed quarry layout is further evidence, if evidence was needed, that no-one in the Council planning department was aware of the extent of the Readymix plans. Planners and geologists consistently followed the lead made by David Tresize, in 1978 and 1989, in excluding the steep escarpment from the resource area.
KRA57 - Wahpunga
It is also important to note that the KRA resource area covers the whole of Lot 258 - most of which is grazing flats, along with Shepperson's dairy and house. It also encroaches onto four freehold properties on the south-western boundary of Lots 258 and 259, none of which has ever had an application for extractive industry. Considering what has transpired so far with the quarry on Lot 259, the public should be very concerned that this 200 ha resource area has been set aside for future exploitation. If there is no intention to exploit it in the foreseeable future, it should not be included in KRA mapping. It is currently being used to restrict development of properties in the Separation Area, many of them more than 1500 metres from the Neilsen quarry site. Neilsens submitted an objection to a proposed development on Gympie Kin Kin Rd in 2009, despite it being close to two kilometres from their quarry site. Council then applied unreasonable conditions to the approval, making it seemingly uneconomic to proceed. If this is what the KRA separation area is for, it is a gross miscarriage of justice and the Kin Kin community should be alarmed by its sinister intent. If the intention is to quarry this area in the future, someone in representative government should come out now and say so. Otherwise, reduce the KRA Resource Area and the Separation Area and give 20 or more freehold landholders a chance to try to re-establish their land values. We are quite happy to publish any Council or Government response here, for the benefit of the public.
And so on... Time contraints on the KKCG volunteers precluded completing this table, although there was a vast amount of evidence to add.